Both HP and IBM have been applying pressure on Sun as they mounted campaigns urging their customers to migrate to their Unix hardware. But there have been few high-profile, competitive hires during the five-month period since Oracle announced that it planned to acquire Sun.
Gaining the head of North American sales, usually the top regional sales position, from a competing firm is tantamount to getting a top member of the opposing team to switch sides. Prior to becoming senior VP of North American sales at Sun, Seidl was Sun's VP for financial services, an industry sector where Sun's UltraSparc servers and Solaris operating system were heavily used.
"His team was the #1 global selling unit in fiscal year '08, with all of his leaders over goal, and achieved strong annual margin and revenue growth [from] fiscal year '06 to fiscal year '08. Randy joined Sun through the acquisition of StorageTek, where he was one of the top sales performers," says Seidl's biography, still on Sun's Web site.
HP embellished the description: "His team achieved margin growth of 80% and revenue growth of 35% from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2008," it said in its announcement.
Sun has been under pressure from IBM and HP as it undergoes a $7.4 billion acquisition process started April 20 by Oracle. Both firms have mounted campaigns to migrate Sun customers off of their UltraSparc hardware to their own Unix hardware. To halt the loss, Oracle mounted an ad campaign in late August and early September, saying an Oracle/Sun machine was faster than IBM's fastest server and stating that Oracle would invest "more in Sparc than Sun does." The campaign resulted in the Transaction Processing Council levying a $10,000 fine Tuesday against Oracle for advertising an unfinished benchmark against IBM's published one.
Seidl has 24 years of sales and general management experience with both startup and Fortune 500 companies. He previously served as CEO of Permabit, a Cambridge, Mass.-based storage software company. He was a co-founder and executive VP of sales and services for GiantLoop, a pioneer in data center networking services. As CEO of Workgroup Solutions, an open systems value-added reseller, he grew revenue from $17 million to $66 million in three years. Seidl will report to Dave Donatelli, executive VP of enterprise servers and networking at HP.
"Customers and partners alike, especially those grappling with the uncertainty of Sun's future, need a technology partner that can eliminate barriers to business growth quickly," said Donatelli in announcing Seidl's hiring. Seidl's "long-standing enterprise relationships" will help drive HP market and channel expansion, he added.
HP quoted a U.S. channel reseller of its systems in the announcement. Marc Sarazin, exeutive VP of sales and marketing at AdvizeX Technologies in Burlington, Mass., described Seidel as "a true channel champion" who was "well known amongst the reseller community."
"He is relentless in his pursuit of customer satisfaction... He will be a great leader for HP's sales organization," Sarazin said.
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